Paul is never more frustrated than in his letter to the Galatians. Apparently, a group of Jewish Christians have arrived in the Galatian churches proclaiming that all Gentiles must be converted to Judaism before they can become disciples of Jesus. This group has convinced many of the people in Paul’s churches to believe that being a Christian is about obeying the Old Testament Law and earning God’s love.
Rather than a small theological disagreement, Paul views this change as an existential threat to Christianity and an immediate threat to the salvation of the Galatians. This is striking, because we often default into the same misconceptions as these “Judaizers.” We often proclaim salvation by faith, but live as though we are saved by our works. How have you observed this in your own life? In the lives of others?
If Jesus died for our sins, and we are saved through faith in him, then seeking our salvation in the Law (or in religion or being “good” people) explicitly rejects salvation in Christ. If you have already been given something, you do not continue to look for it. We only look for what we do not have. If we have salvation in Christ, we need not seek it out in obedience to rules; if we do seek salvation in the Law, it is because we affirm we have not found it in Christ.
What consequences come from a total trust in Christ’s salvation for us? How convinced are you of this truth?
Paul also speaks to the evidence of God-in-us, or what he calls “the fruit of the Spirit.” You can find these listed in Galatians 5:22. Which of these do you see growing in your life?
Hebrews is a rarity in the New Testament - an anonymous letter. It appears to be addressed to Jewish Christians, and emphasizes the role Jesus plays in fulfilling and surpassing the Old Covenant. In what ways do you notice Jesus is portrayed as superior to the Old Testament revelation and Law?
We also find an emphasis on Jesus’ role as high priest; several times we are told that he can relate to us because he was like us. Does it give you comfort to know that Jesus understands your temptations?
Dig into Hebrews this week - I think you’ll find it rich with insight and wisdom!